BBC Children In Need 19/11/04
This annual appeal featuring countless
performers was introduced by Terry Wogan and Gaby Roslin. Terry
made a valiant attempt to pronounce “Pokarekare Ana” but failed
miserably just the same! Never mind Tel, I think we know what
it’s called by now!
The song was performed as a duet
between Hayley and Russell Watson. During the first verse, which
Hayley sang solo, I noticed a considerable amount of echo which
made her gentle tones sound even more mellow. Russell took over
the lead for the second verse, beginning almost sotto voce and
gradually gaining strength until Hayley joined him mid-verse,
singing in unison.
A twelve-piece choir, singing the
same arrangement as the original version on Pure, was complimented
by a powerful counter-melody from Russell before Hayley resumed
the lead for the final verse.
When the enthusiastic applause
from the audience had subsided, Hayley said during a brief interview
that she was missing New Zealand and the hot weather. Aren’t
Des and Mel 24/11/04
For those of you who are not aware,
this is a light-hearted daytime chat show programme with musical
guests hosted by Des O’Connor and Melanie Sykes. Des and Mel
chatted (the usual format is too informal to call it an interview)
with Hayley who mentioned that she always enjoyed easy listening
pop but became interested in classical music some years ago.
She said that although she was still practicing the piano, she
had given up playing the violin because things got “a little
bit busy”! Huh, she can say that again! Hayley’s appearance
at the so-called Bush Banquet was mentioned and, when asked
if she gets nervous at such an occasion she said that she just
takes a few deep breaths before performing. A few more during
the thing might help too! She confirmed that she had recently
sat her GCSE exams in English and Maths but that she would not
know the results until February or March. All together now –
“You’ll do fine!”
After a few words about the inevitable
comparisons that have been made between Hayley and Charlotte
Church it became apparent that there are still swans on the
river in Christchurch! Thank goodness for that! Des and Mel
then presented Hayley with a basket of “munchy things” which
are typical confection in New Zealand. Hayley, who had seemed
to enjoy the chat right from the start, suddenly looked excited
at the prospect of a feast but was told she would have to sing
for her supper….
After a short break, Hayley’s crystalline
voice was ringing out over the combined backing from a string
quartet and a guitar. “Mary Did You Know?”, which sounded gorgeous,
is apparently one of Hayley’s favourites and it shows. Dressed
in jeans and a pastel mint green top, she looked totally relaxed
and made the performance look so easy.
Christmas Mania (11/12/04)
This was an ITV special in celebration
of the songs and carols which are associated with Christmas.
These were performed by an eclectic mixture of performers from
Roy Wood, through Katie Melua and Il Divo, to Ronan Keating,
Jamie Cullum and others, and presented by Donny Osmond.
In his introduction, Donny invited
the audience to imagine a six year old girl performing in a
school play when, as soon as the little girl’s voice is heard,
the audience is mesmerised. He went on to say that this is no
fairy tale for it really happened. As we know, the little girl
We then saw Hayley standing centre
stage as she began to sing “Silent Night”. During the first
verse, only the mellow harp accompanied her. In the second,
the subtle sound of strings and woodwind enhanced the tranquil
sound of voice and harp. During the final verse, a choir could
be heard but neither they nor the musicians were ever seen.
Hayley, with dry ice swirling about her ankles, looked lovely.
The rallentando during the last line was particularly effective
and the exquisite last note was held, perhaps, for a little
longer than usual until it finally faded away. As Donny acknowledged
as soon as he reappeared, “Wow”!
Songs Of Praise (12/12/04)
This weekly programme has been
shown every Sunday evening for as long as I can remember. It
is usually recorded in a church somewhere within the UK but
occasionally it comes from a large concert venue. On this occasion
it was from the Royal Albert Hall in London and, despite being
recorded on 12th September, was a Christmas special.
The programme was introduced by
two of its regular hosts, Pam Rhodes and Aled Jones. Aled introduced
“The Littlest Star” (the title of the play in which Hayley appeared
when she was six) and I wondered briefly if she is going to
be stuck with this epithet for the rest of her life but he quickly
qualified it by saying that she is now a “huge star”. I should
think so too!
I interject here to explain that
a week ago I bought Aled’s Christmas album on which Hayley makes
a guest appearance for the most beautiful version I have ever
heard of “Silent Night” and I had been secretly hoping that
we would be treated to this lovely carol tonight. I have to
admit that I was just a little disappointed when it became clear
that she was about to sing “Mary Did You Know?”
My disappointment was soon dispelled
as Hayley commenced this delightful song to the accompaniment
of a piano, guitar, drums and strings. As Kirsty said in her
review of the recent concert in Birmingham, “There was something
in her (Hayley’s) face that plainly said (to me anyway!) ‘I
am really enjoying this and I believe in this song truly’”.
I was aware of Kirsty’s observation as I watched the performance
tonight and I think she was right. There are signs that Hayley
really associates with the lyric in a way that convinces the
listener to believe in it too.
Later in the programme, Aled spoke
to Hayley for a few minutes during which she said she would
be spending Christmas in New Zealand and looked forward to a
family gathering where they would have a feast and play lots
of music. Sounds like a busman’s holiday to me! Hayley then
mentioned that the next song may have been the first carol that
she ever learned and that it was certainly a favourite of hers.
Could it be?
Yes, it was “Silent Night”. Now,
would it be the same arrangement as the one on Aled’s CD? Yes,
it was. Oh heaven! For anyone who is yet to hear it, I urge
you not to leave it another year before doing so. With Hayley’s
exquisite harmony in the final verse, it is so devastatingly
beautiful that, for me, no Christmas will ever be complete without
Aled was dressed in a tuxedo and
black bow tie while Hayley looked stunning in a shimmering bright
steely blue full-length gown. They were well lit against a darkened
background, throughout which tiny flickering lights looked like
I wrote a separate review of this
song last week which appears elsewhere in the reviews section.
All I will add is that to see them performing it added a new
dimension to the wondrous sound. Many times in the past, Hayley’s
sensational voice has sent shivers down my spine and caused
goose bumps where I least expected them! This time the shivers
were coming one after another in waves. I even got the shivers
in my goose bumps! The penultimate line was especially beautiful
with a brief tacit, allowing a split second of total silence,
before the final line. It was all so lovely.
so, although I am by no means prepared for Christmas, I am at
least in the mood for it. Thanks to Hayley, I have had the most
amazing and truly delightful year. May she have a wonderful
Christmas back home with her family and may her success continue
throughout the coming year.
a very happy Christmas to you all.
12th December 2004